Disclaimer: I do not own anything Fringe related, except maybe for my ideas in these fics.
Spoilers: Uhm...up to the end of season 3 I guess.
Rating: Let's go with T for now.
A/N: Hello guys! I almost want to say 'long time no see' XD I've actually been busy writing, posting this fic on my tumblr, and since people seem to enjoy it, I think it's time to share it here as well. A bit of an explanation is obviously needed:
This story is a companion piece to 'In Reverse', which was -as most of my readers surely know by now- a future!Polivia story. What I mean by 'companion piece' is that it's not a sequel. What I've done is that I chose a point in time within my 'In Reverse' chronology, and started writing a completely different future for them. I think of it as my "Alternate Future!Polivia" XD
I've decided to write this mostly because I need closure when it comes to some aspects of that particular story. And by that I mean the fact that I basically killed their child and felt quite bad about it :D So you know what you're getting yourself into if you read it.
If you do read it, I'm going to assume you have read 'In Reverse'. You might be very confused if you haven't. Chronologically speaking, it starts in 2018, which means that it includes everything I wrote in 'In Reverse' from part XI to part XX. It is all canon in this story (it obviously includes the whole baby!drama). Basically, everything I already wrote that happened between 2014 and 2018, happened. I'm 'simply' changing their future.
Now that you're all confused, you can go read XD
As she finds herself throwing up rather violently for the third time in two days, Olivia tries to convince herself again that this is just a stomach bug, a stupid stomach bug. So far it had worked quite well.
Not anymore, though.
And she can't tell what has caused what, if her nausea is a reaction to what has dawned on her as she was checking her calendar for upcoming meetings, or if the fact that she was nauseous yet again helped her brain connect the dots and point out the obvious. Not that it matters much. The thought is in her mind, now, spreading in her veins like poison, and burning her throat in a rush of acidic bile and sour coffee –the only thing she had really felt like swallowing these past few days, plagued as she has been with nausea and annoying exhaustion. Needless to say that that thought isn't helping either at the moment; actually, it makes her feel even worse, some sort of dormant instinct kicking in and scowling at her for being so thoughtless.
But how could she have known she shouldn't have been drinking cup of coffee after cup of coffee? This should not even be happening at all.
The retching stops eventually, once she has nothing left in her stomach to throw up -though she wouldn't mind getting rid of the building panic in her chest. Her whole body keeps on shaking as she slumps down, holding onto the toilet bowl in a death grip, resting her clammy forehead upon her hands and feeling beyond miserable.
She doesn't want to move, doesn't want to think; even breathing is hardly bearable right now, each wobbly gulps she takes sounding more frantic than the previous one in the otherwise silent room, when she should have been calming down.
But how could she be feeling even remotely calm?
The silence is suddenly broken by a series of knocks on the door, gentle yet persistent.
"Olivia?" He calls out calmly, but she hears the slight worry in his voice, and her desire to make herself disappear from this place increases. "Are you alright?"
She almost chuckles, but finds she cannot muster the strength to laugh at this just yet. She forces herself to straighten up instead, dully flushing the toilet, knowing that Peter is listening and that this sound at least will let him know she's in no immediate danger. Soon, she finds herself up on her feet, holding onto the sink now as she rinses her mouth, trying to avoid her reflection, and failing. She looks positively grey.
She quickly reaches out for the door. Even though she's absolutely not ready for this conversation, she knows he's worried, and in all honesty, she feels so close to having some kind of break down, she would rather have him here when it happens.
Her gaze meets his as soon as she opens the door. Leaning weakly against the frame, she watches as he quickly takes her in, and the line in his brow deepens even more; his eyes say more about his concern than he lets it show on the rest of his face. As she studies him equally, she notes the shade of grey in his hair, the familiar wrinkles at the corner of his eyes that weren't as pronounced a few years ago, and she feels very old herself.
"Are you okay?" He asks softly, knowing that she's not, but it is his way of trying to find out what kind of behavior she's expecting from him.
She doesn't even shake her head, simply stares back at him, her cheek pressed into the wood of the frame, and she silently begs her trembling legs to keep her up as she decides to leap in without further ado.
"I think I'm pregnant."
He reacts just the way she expected him to. He simply blinks at her a few times, face blank.
She was expecting that, too; she forces herself to keep on breathing in and out slowly in a controlled pattern, aware that it might take him a moment to process the news. And so she keeps on going, matter-of-factly.
"I should have been having my period right now. I'm nauseous and tired instead."
Blinks. "Maybe…it's just…late."
She shakes her head. "No, Peter. I've also realized I didn't have it last month either."
Blinks. "Oh." And then, his face falls, as realization kicks in. "Oh."
"Yeah…" she whispers, closing her eyes. "Oh."
This is so much worse than 'Oh', though. This is a huge 'Oh God please no don't let this be true'. And she desperately wants to believe it, to persuade herself she's just going through some sort of hormonal dysfunction, and that this has nothing to do with her bearing a child. She cannot be pregnant.
She can't go through this again.
She feels the gentle touch of his fingers on her cheek then, and reopens her eyes as he drops his hand. He looks stunned, and clearly far from being able to say anything helpful right now, but she doesn't care. She doesn't need him to lie to her; she sees and feels that he is battling with his own emotions, and that's enough for now, to know that whatever happens, he's in this with her.
"What do you need?" he asks softly, his face grave.
She bites her lip, shaking her head shortly. 'I need for this NOT to be happening', she wants to tell him.
"A pregnancy test would be a good start, I guess," is what she says instead.
And he's already halfway out of the bedroom when he answers "I'm on it," sounding so much like Astrid that she almost smiles.
"Buy three of them," she tells him, only half-jokingly.
He comes back with five.
He offers her an apologetic shrug when she looks up from the bag. His face is paler, his features tensed, and she has no doubt that like her, he has spent the last twenty minutes truly taking in the enormity of what is happening. She doesn't blame him for panicking and buying all of these. She's not going to be picky, though. She randomly takes a box out of the bag and goes back to the bathroom.
As it turns out, it is one of those that don't bother with lines of colors anymore, provided with a little screen instead, which starts displaying a fancy image of a ticking clock as soon as she's done. It makes the waiting even worse.
She joins him back in the bedroom, and hands him the test, unable to look at it anymore right now. While he remains seated on the bed, quiet and remarkably calm, she goes back and forth again and again in front of him, twisting her fingers and not being exactly gentle with her hair; he knows better than to try and calm her down.
When the test finally starts beeping, an eternity later, she abruptly stops her rounds and turns back to him, his eyes already down and fixed on the screen. When he raises his head and their gazes meet, she knows.
He holds the test up for her to see anyway, and the word covering the small screen is irrefutable.
She begins to pace again, her breathing loud and uneven now. She's starting to feel like the air is not correctly entering her lungs anymore, slowly depriving her of oxygen.
"How…" she hears Peter's low voice when he eventually tries to speak, but she doesn't look back at him, her anguish getting more suffocating with every passing second. "I don't understand. We've been careful."
'Careful' is an understatement. For the past three years, she has been keeping up with birth control advancements thoroughly, and she knows the only reason why she has not noticed her lack of period last month is because they had been too busy trying to control the Vortex near Chicago. And they always use protection, now.
She had meant it, when she told him once she did not want any more children in the future, and he knows it.
She finds herself chuckling, a very nervous kind of chuckle, the sound coming out strangled, as she keeps on forcing the air down her throat, past the painful lump that has grown there. "We're apparently very good at defying statistics when it comes to pregnancies."
Her own words and everything they really mean are like the final straw, a violent slap, a blade plunged in her heart, brutally breaking apart the meager attempts she has made so far at pretending that she is alright, that she can handle this. Because she can't, she simply can't, and she's suddenly overwhelmed with pain, that pain that never completely goes away, that pain she's simply gotten really good at masking, keeping it to a low ache that silently wears her down day after day.
It is nothing close to a low ache right now, it's a throbbing gash in her chest, the hurt so intense that it becomes almost physical, and she can't even walk anymore, can't breathe, and she has to stop moving, her hands now up to her face as she fights for air. "Oh god," she's panting against her fingers. "Oh god…"
She's convinced she's going to collapse on the floor any second now, tremors fiercely rippling through her flesh, her limbs so heavy and weak as her heart pounds furiously in her rib cage, as if desperately pumping for the oxygen she doesn't seem able to get into her lungs anymore.
Next thing she knows, she's the one sitting on the bed, with Peter's hands on her face; he has knelt in front of her, and she's holding onto his shirt for dear life. It takes her a few foggy, panicked seconds to register and focus on what he's saying, his eyes the only thing she sees.
"Just breathe in and out, it's okay, just breathe in and out," he tells her firmly, yet gently, and one of his hands leave her face to come rest on hers. He manages to get her fingers to uncurl, until her palm is resting upon his chest, his hand covering hers, and he takes long and deep breaths between his calm encouragements.
Eventually, she manages to focus her mind on the feel of his chest rising and falling steadily under her hand, his heartbeat incredibly slow compared to the thumping sounds resonating against her ears, and little by little, she succeeds in matching her breathing to his own, his eyes never leaving hers.
When he's sure the worst of her panic has passed, he lets go of her hand to bring his fingers back to her face, sliding them through her hair. "You're okay... It's okay…" he keeps on repeating, and she finally musters the force to shake her head in his hands.
"It's not okay, Peter," she says in a breathless whisper, all she can manage at the moment. "There's absolutely nothing okay about this."
"We'll figure it out," he tells her reassuringly, and even though his eyes still shine with worry, she knows he means it.
She keeps on stubbornly shaking her head, still controlling her breathing. "I'm thirty-eight, Peter. That fact alone adds a whole new level of risks and problems to this pregnancy, which is already probably doomed because of what-"
But she can't bring herself to say it; she doesn't have the strength. Closing her eyes in an attempt to suppress the prickling sensation that has invaded them, she rests her forehead against his, trying to regain control over the pain, but it's pointless. They haven't even talked about her in so long, in years really, and while she knows he was the reluctant one in the beginning, she has become accustomed to this silence, too, forced to believe that not mentioning the death of their daughter would lessen the pain, somehow.
But it has been so meaningless. Of course she thinks about her, still dreams about her, imagines how things would be if she were alive. She counts every day, knows that it has been three years and seven months since she was taken away from her, knows that she's most likely responsible for her death, on a biological level.
That feeling of loss and guilt follows her wherever they go, just like Peter will never be freed of his own burden.
Their vow of silence is about to be broken, though. Talking about Elizabeth and the way she died is inevitable, now that she's carrying another child; another innocent soul she had sworn to never offer as a sacrifice to this cruel, dying world, never again.
"Do you want to discuss…options?" He whispers against her lips after an endless moment, and she doesn't need to ask him what he means.
She knows what it costs him to utter these words, aware that it probably sickens him to even think it, but she's grateful for his honesty and pragmatism at that instant; this role is usually hers when it comes to their dynamic, but it is one she cannot seem to grasp right now.
She shakes her head against his, keeping her eyes closed. "There's really no option to discuss…" she whispers, fighting against the lump in her throat, which is growing painfully fast again. "This baby will either live or die...I'll do everything I can to help it live, not the other way around."
The way his breath hitches in his throat then, as he moves his hands from her face to encircle her and bury his face against her neck, makes her quite sure he's fighting tears himself. And there's more than pain in his embrace, somehow recognizing from a distant time the desperate hint of hope in the way he holds onto her, a feeling that had been contagious at the time; it had been a sweet, comforting warmth, one she had allowed herself to feel with all her heart.
Not this time.
She's not even surprised when he says against her skin: "Maybe we're getting a second chance."
His voice is quiet, no louder than a murmur, as if he's afraid of his own words, as if saying them out loud might burst that feeble bubble of hope already blooming within him.
She wants to tell him all about how she doesn't want a second chance, doesn't need a second chance. Because she doesn't understand.
She doesn't understand why she's getting a second chance, when she would give anything to get her first chance back.
She still doesn't understand why her baby girl had to die.
She doesn't tell him any of this, of course. She lets him hope, for she knows it is such a rare, fleeting feeling in their lives, choosing to press her nose into his hair instead, letting his scent soothe some of her aching fears.
Like she told him, no matter how afraid she is, how wrong she thinks this is, she will do everything in her power to insure this baby will live.
What she doesn't tell him either, though, is that until the moment comes when she can hold her breathing, healthy child in her arms, if that moment ever comes at all, she will not let herself love that child.
She has learned her lesson.
A/N: It has to get worse before it gets better :) Also, people on tumblr don't seem to believe me when I say it, but I swear I will not kill that baby.
Enjoy the episode tonight guys! And let me know what you think, I can post the second chapter shortly if I know you guys are interested; it's done and ready ;)